IronLion: The African Roots of Ancient Rome

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The Genetics of it all:

Immunogenetics. 2004 Jan;55(10):674-81. Epub 2003 Dec 2.

Gm and Km immunoglobulin allotypes in Sicily.

Cerutti N, Dugoujon JM, Guitard E, Rabino Massa E.

Department of Animal and Human Biology, University of Turin, Via Accademia Albertina 17, 10123, Turin, Italy.

The presence of a typical African marker (haplotype Gm 5*;1,17;…), especially in the genetic structure of Alia and Palermo, highlights the possibility of past contacts with peoples from Africa. […] Therefore, the introduction of an African polymorphism could have been due to the Phoenician colonization or to the more recent Arab conquest of the territory (9th century A.D.).

A study (Semino et al. 1989) carried out with restriction enzymes on mtDNA indicated the presence of African haplotypes (4.4%) in a sample of Sicilians.

The authors hypothesized an input of genes from Africa to Sicily (estimated at about 10%) brought by Phoenician migrations. The Cartheginians were called the Afris by the Romans.


SICULI: “Ancient Sicilian tribe that occupied the eastern part of Sicily. Old tales related that the Siculi once lived in central Italy but were driven out and finally crossed to Sicily, leaving remnants behind…. They are hard to identify archaeologically, although some words of their Indo-European language are known.”

SICANI: “According to ancient Greek writers, the aboriginal inhabitants of western Sicily, as opposed to the Siculi of eastern Sicily. Archaeologically there is no substantial difference between Sicani and Siculi (Sicels) in historical times; but ancient authorities believed the Sicani to be Iberians from Spain….”


Historians have suggested that they may have originated in North Africa. This portion of the theory is supported by an observation of C. Michael Hogan who points out similarities between Chalcolithic artefacts in Iberia with Neolithic pottery in parts of Morocco.

The Iberians would have initially settled along the eastern coast of Spain, and then possibly spread throughout the rest of the Iberian Peninsula….


By the time the Greeks placed their own colonies in western Sicily, the Carthaginians had already occupied the western end of the island, and for centuries the two sides struggled indecisively to seize control of the whole island. In 264, the Romans began a major war with the Carthaginians in Sicily (the First Punic War, 264-242), eventually wrestling away Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia from the Carthaginians. During the Second Punic War (218-202), the Carthaginian general Hannibal inflicted major defeats on the Romans, who eventually won the day, restricting the Carthaginians to their own immediate territory in Africa.” See

In 210 BC, the Roman Consul M. Valerian informed the Senate that “no Carthaginian remains in Sicily.” See

Scozzari et al. (2001) identify a Y-chromosome mutation that “diverged from the ancestor HG25.1 somewhere in North Africa a few thousand years ago”, and is thus indicative of recent gene flow from North African males. The authors report that the marker “HG25.2 was seen at generally low frequencies in Spain, France, and Italy”…

Cruciani et al. (2004) confirm the above, using the frequencies of ‘Berber’ mutations (now labeled E-M81 and E-M78?) in large sample populations to estimate that North African paternal admixture within the past 5000 years amounts to 1.5% in Northern Italians, 2.2% in Central Italians, 0% in Southern Italians, 1.4% in Sardinians and 1.4% in Sicilians…

See Cruciani et al. (2004) Phylogeographic analysis of haplogroup E3b (E-M215) Y chromosomes reveals multiple migratory events within and out of Africa. Am J Hum Genet; 74


Blood group phenotypes and the origin of sickle cell hemoglobin in Sicilians.

Sandler SG, Schiliro G, Russo A, Musumeci S, Rachmilewitz EA.

As an approach to investigating the origin of sickle cell hemoglobin (hemoglobin S) in white persons of Sicilian ancestry, two groups of native Sicilians were tested for blood group evidence of African admixture. Among 100 unrelated Sicilians, the phenotypes cDe(Rho) and Fy(a-b-), and the antigens V(hrv) and Jsa, which are considered to be African genetic markers, were detected in 12 individuals. Among 64 individuals from 21 families with at least one known hemoglobin S carrier, African blood group markers were detected in 7 (11%). These findings indicate that hemoglobin S is only one of multiple African genes present in contemporary Sicilian populations. The occurrence of hemoglobin S in white persons of Sicilian ancestry is considered to be a manifestation of the continuing dissemination of the original African mutation.

Originally posted by IronLion:
History of Sicily by Paolo Mazzesi

The history of Sicily begins with the history of Europe, during the upper Paleolithic (20,000 – 10,000 bC): it was populated by peoples of the modern human type. Settlements and new civilizations followed in waves, then followed by new ones over and over: the Phoenician, the Greeks, the Arabs (the Moors)…..

The most ancient Sicilian culture we know is dated around 10,000 bC (as established from rock carvings at Mount Pellegrino), followed by others until in the Eneolithic (Copper age, 3,500-3,000 bC) the island began to be subjected to ever increasing influences by oriental and Mediterranean civilizations.

Sicily used to have a different name before the current one (we would call it Sicania): it originated from the “Sicani” people : anthropologists tell us that the “Sicani” had nothing in common with the “Siculi”, who came later.

The former originated from Libya, and geologists admit they could have come to the western part of the island when a strip of land emerged during glacial eras used to connect Africa to Sicily, therefore these people where of Camitic origin. About 1,000 bC these people were subjugated ed by the Carthaginese.

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